Anxieties have been brewing for years among New York City taxi drivers: medallion values have plummeted, while a taxi graveyard grows in Greenpoint. Mayor de Blasio talked tough about capping Uber’s growth, then dropped the ambition completely. By August 2015, Uber’s outer borough pickups had already exceeded those of taxis.
The latest indicator of Uber’s unabated industry disruption/takeover comes from the New York Times: In July, Uber documented more daily trips than taxis. People took 289,000 Uber trips per day on average that month, versus 277,000 taxi trips.
Half of Uber trips now start outside of Manhattan, according to an Uber spokeswoman, excluding trips to or from NYC airports. This time in 2015, only a quarter of them did.
Uber shared selective data with the NY Times, supporting the argument that their focus on the outer boroughs is working. There are new driver recruitment centers in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, and neighborhood-specific promotions like $5 UberPools. From the paper, data shows:
…service expanding rapidly in 50 sample residential areas in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and on Staten Island with limited access to public transportation. Uber made a total of 167,194 weekly pickups in these areas in August, nearly triple the 56,721 weekly pickups from the year before.
“Uber’s mission is to provide reliable, affordable transportation to everyone, everywhere and we have worked hard to ensure that all New Yorkers can get a ride in minutes, particularly in neighborhoods underserved by mass transit and ignored by yellow cabs,” Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang stated.
Uber’s efforts to capitalize on New York City’s transit deserts have been ongoing. In a 2015 interview with Fusion, Uber’s New York GM Josh Mohrer stressed that “Uber encourages the use of mass transit (especially in the outer boroughs) by providing a ‘last mile’ link to the subway.”
In NYC, yellow and green cab fleets are capped by law. There are currently 13,587 active yellow cab permits, according to the TLC, and 4,579 green cab permits. For comparison, the TLC documents 63,319 vehicles affiliated with Uber.
This marks a big leap from January 2016, when TLC told us Uber had 27,630 affiliated vehicles.
The Uber takeover is frustrating for disabled New Yorkers, since Uber and other for-hire vehicles don’t have accessibility requirements, while taxis are under mandate to be 50 percent wheelchair-accessible by the year 2020. The TLC has proposed a new rule that would require all FHVs to dispatch 25 percent of their trips in wheelchair accessible vehicles by 2021, but Uber and other FHV dispatchers have united against the plan, calling the proposed fleet changes overly expensive (they’re hatching an alternative plan that would have FHVs respond to individual wheelchair requests with smaller fleets, according to Uber.)
“While taxis are getting up to 50 percent accessibility, even that is diluted by the sheer number of for-hire vehicles on the street in this post-Uber world,” TransitCenter analyst and former taxi driver Mel Plaut told Crain’s this summer. “It only makes sense to have some sort of mandate to correct for that and to make this rapidly growing segment of the industry accessible to people with disabilities.”
Any future Uber caps are the City Council’s purview, according to the TLC.